This is a guest blog post written by my assistant and Community Manager, Kat Armstrong.
After spending the past few days writing about the new iPhone, my brain was absolutely shot. Approximately 90% of what I write every day deals with technology news, gadgets and companies. About an hour ago, I hit a brick wall. I had zero ideas floating around in my noggin. I couldn’t bring myself to write about the iPhone yet again. I sat here staring at the screen as I frantically casted about for a subject – any subject – to talk about next.
I decided to fire up my handy-dandy TweetDeck application. Reaching out to my followers, I asked for ideas. One good friend suggested I talk about the uses of social media in education. That sounded interesting, and my mind began to churn. I fired off another tweet, asking “STUDENTS: How has/does the use of social media help your education (NOT your social life!)?” I also repeated the question in Chris’ live chat room.
The replies poured in, and I was dismayed. I heard from nearly one hundred students of all ages and education levels. I haven’t done the math, but I’d feel safe in guessing that approximately 5% of those answering claim that they make use of social media in their educational lives. The rest of them said they only use it to catch up with friends, chat about their day and play games.
In the age of Web 2.0, why aren’t students using social media in the classroom? We already know that Twitter is the fastest way to find information on breaking news stories. Blogs can be used to encourage creative writing and proper grammar skills. Cramster is a Q&A board much like our new Lockergnome site. However, its sole purpose lies in bringing together pupils of all ages to help each other with homework and research. Sites such as Box and Dropbox allow learners and educators to share files together quickly and easily.
At the very least, sites such as Twitter, Facebook and even (*shudder*) MySpace can be used to create discussion in the classroom. Teachers can pull news stories from any of those sources. Students can ask questions and facilitate deeper discussion after reading something on one of the thousands of SM sites. Professors can institute peer reviews on writing projects. Kids can locate an expert in a field they are interested in, and “shadow” them on the Web. Geotagging can be used to target and find information about places that are being studied.
The possibilities are, quite honestly, endless. I certainly hope that my quick Twitter poll is not indicative of the use (or rather – the lack) of social media in an educational setting. Will someone prove me wrong? I’d love to hear your stories of how your school or college has been incorporating the use of social media into the curriculum.
Kat can be found in any number of places around the Web. You can catch her on Twitter, Facebook, and of course on every site in our community. If you’re lucky, you may even find her occasionally rambling about something on her personal blog.